Neutrophils enhance early Trypanosoma brucei infection onset

Sci Rep. 2018 Jul 25;8(1):11203. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-29527-y.


In this study, Trypanosoma brucei was naturally transmitted to mice through the bites of infected Glossina morsitans tsetse flies. Neutrophils were recruited rapidly to the bite site, whereas monocytes were attracted more gradually. Expression of inflammatory cytokines (il1b, il6), il10 and neutrophil chemokines (cxcl1, cxcl5) was transiently up-regulated at the site of parasite inoculation. Then, a second influx of neutrophils occurred that coincided with the previously described parasite retention and expansion in the ear dermis. Congenital and experimental neutropenia models, combined with bioluminescent imaging, indicate that neutrophils do not significantly contribute to dermal parasite control and elicit higher systemic parasitemia levels during the infection onset. Engulfment of parasites by neutrophils in the skin was rarely observed and was restricted to parasites with reduced motility/viability, whereas live parasites escaped phagocytosis. To our knowledge, this study represents the first description of a trypanosome infection promoting role of early innate immunological reactions following an infective tsetse fly bite. Our data indicate that the trypanosome is not hindered in its early development and benefits from the host innate responses with the neutrophils being important regulators of the early infection, as already demonstrated for the sand fly transmitted Leishmania parasite.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chemokine CXCL1 / genetics
  • Chemokine CXCL5 / genetics
  • Dermis / metabolism
  • Dermis / parasitology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Insect Bites and Stings / parasitology
  • Insect Vectors / genetics
  • Insect Vectors / parasitology
  • Interleukin-10 / genetics
  • Interleukin-1beta / genetics
  • Interleukin-6 / genetics
  • Luminescent Measurements
  • Mice
  • Neutrophils / metabolism
  • Neutrophils / parasitology*
  • Neutrophils / pathology
  • Trypanosoma brucei brucei / genetics*
  • Trypanosoma brucei brucei / pathogenicity
  • Trypanosomiasis, African / genetics*
  • Trypanosomiasis, African / parasitology
  • Trypanosomiasis, African / transmission
  • Tsetse Flies / parasitology
  • Tsetse Flies / pathogenicity


  • Chemokine CXCL1
  • Chemokine CXCL5
  • Cxcl1 protein, mouse
  • Cxcl5 protein, mouse
  • IL1B protein, mouse
  • Interleukin-1beta
  • Interleukin-6
  • interleukin-6, mouse
  • Interleukin-10